The Ovens Credit: Courtesy the Artist

Chicago feminist punk two-piece the Ovens debuted a decade ago with a charming, rowdy self-titled album that put heteronormativity in its crosshairs. In 2012 they released a second full-length (Settings) and an EP (Try), but since then they’ve been fairly quiet—probably because guitarist-vocalist Heather now lives in Brooklyn, while drummer-vocalist LB remains in Chicago. This summer the Ovens began working on their first EP in eight years, Distance, even though the pandemic interfered with their ability to meet in person. They recorded their parts separately in their respective homes, using whatever they had at their disposal—LB’s screams echo slightly because they recorded their vocal tracks in a bathroom. Despite the Ovens’ piecemeal process and make-do production setup, they sync up well on Distance, delivering frenzied punk rippers and breezy slacker cuts. The album bristles with anxiety and anger about the ways the pandemic has uprooted their world—you can hear it especially clearly in the feral howls of “Weekends End.” But because Heather and LB fought uphill to use their creative partnership to communicate these feelings together, the songs feel as inspiring as they are harrowing.   v